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Rating the three keys to victory

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Duke’s Mayo Classic - Georgia v Clemson Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It was a signature win in prime time on Saturday night with Georgia’s defensively dominant 10-3 victory over Clemson. Without question, there was much that went right for the Dawgs in the win.

Here’s how Georgia stacked up in its three keys to a win.

Don’t get blown off the corners

We’re going to find out how ready for prime time that the new additions to Georgia’s secondary are. Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell won’t be walking through that door on Saturday night unless they are on the sidelines as spectators. Next to Alabama, Clemson’s receivers are probably the most consistently good and physical group at this position nationwide. That level of play will be key for Clemson to take pressure off things regardless of if they rotate the quarterback or not. It’s critical for Georgia to take away that edge and not give up a lot of big plays.

Georgia did a masterful job of disrupting the Clemson backfield and preventing the Tigers from getting into much of a rhythm. Joseph Ngata eventually became a matchup problem for Georgia’s defense, and multiple pass interference penalties (let’s be honest, one was a makeup call) put Georgia in a tough position, but by and large, the threat of a big offensive play was negated, partially due to the Tigers being held of a paltry two yards.

Win the trenches

We don’t know for sure if Warren Ericson will line up at center or not. Kirby Smart is wisely being coy about that, not shockingly. Regardless, one thing Georgia cannot afford to do is to allow Clemson’s fearsome defensive line to clog up run lines. It cannot afford for JT Daniels to have little time to throw. This may be the Georgia offensive line’s biggest test of the season. If we don’t spend the game talking about Georgia’s offensive line being dominated, that’ll mean that Clemson’s defensive line is a non-factor, making it easier for Zamir White and Kendall Milton to eat up yards and time off the clock.

The debate’s underway. Is this defense better than the 2017 unit? After what we saw on Saturday night, the answer is yes. The Clemson offensive line was abused to the tune of seven sacks, and they didn’t have many answers for Georgia’s front. As far as Georgia’s offensive line is concerned, other than a blown blocking assignment early in the fourth, the Tigers never blew up against Georgia’s offensive line, a unit that lost Justin Shaffer and Tate Ratledge during the game.

Sure, more of an offensive push would have been nice, but the bottom line is the offensive line did not have shortcomings that shifted the game’s momentum, for the most part.

Don’t get wide-eyed

By and large, this is the biggest game for Georgia, atmosphere-wise since the 2018 SEC title game. It’s an environment that Clemson is used to but many Georgia players, due to youth, have not been through in person yet. One thing Georgia cannot afford to do is to let the moment overwhelm them and make mental mistakes early on and get into an early hole.

Though the Dawgs didn’t score early, moving the ball from the start was a huge positive, as was getting big stops early. Georgia was ready to play, and it showed.

Go Dawgs!